A Beautiful Mind is the life of mathematical genius and Nobel laureate John Nash. The story of John Nash, this book itself can be regarded as an analysis of the life of a schizophrenic patient, who went on to become the Nobel prize winner for his contribution in the Game theory, in the field of economics in 1995.
John Forbes Nash Sr and Margaret Virginia Nash, parents of John Nash, were loyal couple, like-minded. John Nash Junior was born on 13 July 1928. He was a singular little boy, solitary and an introvert. Martha his younger sister was born two years after himself. Johnny as he was called was regarded by his relatives was bookish and odd, when compared to other children of his age.
Both his parents played a major role in unearthing the potentials within Johnny. It was Virginia who made education an essential part of both her children's life. Their father shared other interests with his children. He took along his children to inspect power lines, answered his son's never ending questions about everything and anything in this world. He treated his children "as if they were adults."
John did very badly in mathematics when he was in his fourth grade. His immaturity and awkward behaviour was more visible than his talents. He did not have any close companions, however he gave class performance in front of his peers. For instance, once he swallowed poison ivy leaves that are extremely poisonous and another time he sat on an electric chair etc. Nash often played dangerous pranks on his friends. A small explosion within his chemistry lab at high school was his master plan.
Virginia however was able to see the mathematical talent in Nash. It was not that he did not know how to solve the problems given to him. He just solved it in his own ways. E T Bells "Men of Mathematics" was Nash's inspiration. This book fuelled his geniuses in this field.
Nash went to Carnegie Institute of Technology in order to become a chemical engineer. However he backed out after first semester as he felt engineering was not his cup of tea. 'A young genius' titled by mathematical professors, John then decided to do his majors in mathematics. Now there was a shift. John became the butt of various pranks. He showed his contempt openly to people whom he thought was not up to his intellectuality.
Nash chose Princeton for his studies over Harvard University. He appeared interested in almost everything mathematical. He avoided regular classes and was always asking probing questions. At Princeton he even invented a game, which was widely played by the faculty and students alike. It was named "Nash" or "John." He was the MIT instructor at 23 years. In the seven years of his teaching at MIT he taught only three graduate courses John Nash was much to himself, who lived in his own thoughts. His apparent lack of ordinary human needs was a matter of pride and satisfaction to himself.
Nash had developed 'special friendships'. Ervin Thorson was one among them. Nash was open about his homosexuality. Eleanor was a pretty, dark haired nurse with whom Nash spent much of his time. In fact when their son John David Stier was born Nash was very excited. However he was very indifferent and never offered to marry Eleanor or pay for David's upbringing. Instead gave her the choice of sending David to a foster care home. Jack Bricker, Nash's junior is another important person in Nash's life, who was dazzled, hypnotized and shared a bond with each other.
In 1954, Nash was arrested for indecent exposure. This arrest was the turning point in his life. Expulsion from RAND was more of a shock than the arrest itself. This proved to be a catalyst to schizophrenia. His marriage to Alicia proved to be a burden for both of them as they were financially unstable and Nash's father had died of heart attack. All these stressful events triggered off the disease. Delusions and hallucinations proved to be an obstacle in his family as well as occupational life. He began hearing words, speech in his mind. Delusions of his being connected to outer space, being an emperor of Antarctica became common.
Nashes left to London. Alicia was busy trying to make both ends meet. All this time Nash was making calls to various eminent people, writing letters to ambassadors explaining that he is the person appointed by a special power for keeping a world government. Alicia left Nash, as she couldn’t manage all the things at a time. In between he was hospitalised and was given insulin therapies. He never liked it and wrote the same in his letters to Martha and Virginia. After lots of deliberation and controversy he became a Nobel Prize winner. Alicia and Nash united once again after the initial divorce.